Utah was excited to get this women's volleyball season under way and it showed. The girls came out smoking and scored the first six points Friday on their way to a sweep of the Utah Valley Wolverines, 25-19, 25-10, 25-22.
In that first game, the Utes zoomed to 10-2 lead before Utah Valley finally caught its breath and then the momentum changed. The Wolverines cut the lead to 14-10 and the Utes had to call a timeout. Lori Baird came out of the timeout and slammed down a definitive kill, and the Utes were on their way to a first-game victory.
With 13 kills and three digs, Baird was named the player of the match.
"It was a great way to start the season," she said.
Despite having 6-foot-7 All-American Emilie Toone's play a little bit off thanks to UVU's blocking scheme, others on the team Karolina Bartkowiak and Chelsey Sandberg stepped in, said Utah coach Beth Launiere.
"We are strong in the middle, one of the best in the country," Launiere said.
"Our whole team has a lot of fire," Baird said. "We played pretty well for a first match. Our energy was good and we executed pretty well."
In the second game, Utah Valley started out strong before the Utes ran off nine straight points to take control.
The third game was close, with Utah playing its reserves. Still, Baird came through whenever a big point was needed.
As for Utah Valley, outside hitter Chelsea Garfield led the Wolverine attack and seemed to have a knack of hitting around the block.
"I really worked hard on that in preseason," she said.
Sam Atoa, the Wolverines' coach, acknowledged the Utes were better in all parts of the game. "They took us out of our system," he said.
BYU 3, UTAH STATE 0: At Provo, first-year BYU coach Shay Goulding celebrated her first career Division I victory Friday night as the BYU women's volleyball team swept Utah State, 25-16, 25-23, 25-13, in the BYU Molten Classic which also saw Missouri defeat Tulane in four games.
"I'm very pleased with our result tonight," said Goulding, who played for the Aggies. "Utah State did a great job, but we showed a lot of maturity and composure. We have a lot of work to do, but overall, it was a great way to start our season."The first match of the year saw several new Cougars in action as true freshman Malia Marquardt tied for team-high honors with 10 kills on .421 hitting. Senior Bryn Porter also posted 10 kills and tied her career high with five blocks.